Quebec public servants now required to make 'exemplary' use of French


Quebec's language law reform is continuing to draw criticism and legal challenges from the province's English community as more of its provisions come into effect Thursday, exactly a year after it received royal assent.
The Quebec government has described the law commonly known as Bill 96 as a moderate response to what it says is the declining use of French in the province, particularly in Montreal.
The changes including requiring civil servants to speak and write exclusively in French while on the job except in certain cases, such as access to health care and social services in English or situations where health, public safety or principles of natural justice require the use of languages other than French.
Small businesses with between five and 49 employees must report how many employees can't communicate in French, with that data to be made public by the province's corporate registry.
And standard contracts -- such as employment contracts, collective agreements, insurance policies, franchise agreements and telephone service contracts -- must be presented in French to both parties, although the contract can be requested in another language as well.
The law faces several legal challenges, including one filed at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday.
That suit, brought on behalf of six English-speaking Quebecers who say they already struggle to get government services in English and worry the situation will deteriorate as more elements of Bill 96 come into effect, seeks to have many aspects of the bill struck down.